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New Miss America's Indian heritage sparks racist comments 

Sep. 16, 2013 at 9:21 AM ET

The crowning of the latest Miss America has stirred up the ugly side of social media.

Miss New York, Syracuse native Nina Davuluri, won the crown Sunday night, and as soon as she did, Twitter lit up with comments suggesting she was an Arab, a foreigner, and a terrorist with ties to Al Qaeda.

Why the hate?

Davuluri, who aspires to be a doctor like her father, is the first Miss America whose family comes from India. Her win also happens to be the second consecutive victory for New York, but that got lost in tweets by people who couldn't look past her skin-deep beauty.

“Congratulations Al-Qaeda. Our Miss America is one of you,” tweeted "De La Rutherford," or @Blayne_MkltRain, who has since pulled down the full Twitter profile.

Many individuals who ranted over the Miss America decision pulled down their Twitter pages after media sites posted their comments. One user whose name has been redacted, as he's a minor, pulled down his profile after he tried to connect Davuluri's win with the September 11 anniversary.

"9/11 was 4 days ago and she gets Miss America?" he tweeted in a post.

But Nick Puzzo kept his site up, using it to defend himself against people who reacted angrily to him tweeting, "So miss america is a terrorist."  


Meanwhile, Todd Starnes, host of Fox News & Commentary, blamed the win on a "politically correct" panel of judges, according to a series of tweets.

"The liberal Miss America judges won't say this but Miss Kansas lost because she actually represented American values," he said in one post.

Davulari, for her part, embraced her heritage in the talent portion of the Miss America competition. She performed an Indian dance fused with Bollywood moves. After she won her crown, she dismissed the online remarks disparaging her heritage. 

"I have to rise above that," she said, according to the AP. "I always viewed myself as first and foremost American." 

Image: Nina Davuluri
Mel Evans
During the 93rd annual Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, 53 contestants competed in luminous evening gowns and flashy swimsuits. Take a look at this year's winner and the other lovely ladies who vied for the crown.

Davuluri is the second Miss Syracuse to win the Miss America crown. Coincidentally, the first one to do so also raised some eyebrows because of her race. In 1983, Vanessa Williams was the first black woman to win Miss America.

"That was before the days of social media, but she got a lot of hate mail," Al Roker noted Monday on TODAY.

The online community also lit up when Rima Fakih was named Miss USA in 2010. An Arab-American whose family comes from Lebanon, Fakih barely had been crowned when many tried to link her with the military terrorist group Hezbollah. 

The comments questioning Davulari's citizenship prompted an online dialogue after other Twitter users began reacting to the racist comments. They came to Davulari's defense, expressing support for the "celebrating diversity" platform she described in the pageant.

"stop hating, america. she's one of us..." said Emma Sydney, or ‏@emsmileyxo6h.

Meanwhile, @ericatessa, told the nation to "#getwithitusa" in her tweet.

Questlove Jenkins, or @questlove, applauded Davulari's win as a reflection of the true "American story."


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